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When Nothing Else Works, Call the Teachers

2015 batch IAS officer, Ananya Mittal took various proactive steps- such as roping in teachers- to fight the peoples’ misconception about vaccination for Covid19.
Indian Masterminds Stories

It’s one thing to resist vaccination against Covid19. That’s a worldwide aberration which can be seen even in several developed countries, including the United States. But imagine a place where tribals armed with bows and arrows chase away the paramedics who arrive with their vaccination kits.

This condition prevailed for quite some time in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, paramedics and other Government officials were forced to make a super hasty retreat in the face of flying arrows.

But how things change! Thanks to the district administration’s measures, which also included spreading the right kind of information to the gullible public, things have finally taken a turn for the better. The bows and arrows have been put aside and there is a smile on the faces of local people.

West Singhbhum District Administration

HIGHLY TRIBAL POPULATED DISTRICT

West Singhbhum district has a population of around 18 lakh people, and as much as 85 percent of it lives in highly remote areas. The literacy rate in the district is also 50 percent, which is way below the country’s average. It was these odds which the Deputy Commissioner Mr Ananya Mittal was facing when he went out in the region with the vaccination drive.

Speaking with Indian Masterminds, Mr Mittal said, “The most important issue was that people in the district were not aware of the Covid19 situation. Due to this, there was resentment in taking such facilities by the district’s population. Also, the right information was spreading at a slow pace.

IAS officer Ananya Mittal informing people about misconceptions related to Covid 19 Vaccine

“As Covid 19 had very general symptoms like fever, dry cough and tiredness, it was a tough task to convince the people to get vaccinated. Superstition was also prevalent in the interior parts of the district and the major task for us was to make such people aware and provide timely vaccination to them.’’

SPREADING AWARENESS

To start with, Mr Ananya Mittal created a video message in the language of the people, urging them to get vaccinated. Other platforms like All India Radio, animated videos and catchy jingles too were used to spread the much needed awareness among the people.

Of the many measures taken by the district administration, one of the most effective has been the “Training of Trainer” initiative.  Mr.Mittal, while taking about this, said, “As teachers got unemployed during the pandemic in our district, we turned them into master trainers. We created a set of teachers who are generally used in election training. As these teachers are already acquainted with the training mechanism while working as polling personnel during elections, we used them in becoming master trainers during the pandemic.”

Spreading right information to people

Medical Officer-in-charge, Dr Jagannath Hembram educated these teachers with all the information related to the usage of vaccine and Covid 19. The teachers are also informed about the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to answer the queries of people in the district. Among the 18 blocks in the district, these 48 Master Trainers were asked to train five more teachers in each block. Following the chain, these five teachers in each block were asked to train three teachers in each panchayat. This helped in passing the right information to each and every person in the district.’’

Spreading awareness to all levels of the society

USING BIKES AND CYCLES

The panchayat level teachers called on meetings of all Health Sahiya, Sewika, Manki, Munda, Dakuwa, PDS dealers, block chiefs and disseminated information that would help clear misconceptions in people’s mind regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Mr. Mittal added, “Through this initiative, we could reach at least one person from each family in the district. Queries started coming in and people became quite open about asking questions related to coronavirus..”

Undoubtedly, these initiatives changed the mindset of a large number of people. Suddenly, one could see large crowds at the vaccination centres, eager for a jab. At the same time, the district administration also took recourse campaigns like bike and cycle rallies to create further awareness among the people.


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